By Nina J P Evans

Saturday, December 06, 2014

Ivan Chermayeff: Cut and Paste

I’ve been online savaging pieces from the summer exhibition titled Cut and Paste by the New York based graphic designer Ivan Chermayeff, though finished now at the De La Warr, I do hope it continues to travel and inspire. This was the first exhibition of his work in the UK as fittingly he is the son of one of the Pavilion architectural partners Serge Chermayef.  The gallery is beautiful Grade one listed 1935 Art Deco modernist design situated right on the sea front at Bexhill on Sea. I was lucky enough this summer to visit and I greatly enjoyed seeing all the pieces, admittedly before seeing the exhibition I was unfamiliar with most of his stuff – apart from the iconic trademarks: Pan Am, Mobil, NBC. This exhibition gave me the pleasure of realising instinctively that I was in the presence of one of the greatest living designers!
“Be interested in training yourself to look around, to notice connections, such as a small colour connection, or the tinniest thing that brings two things together.” ~ Ivan Chermayeff
Further Reading

Thursday, December 04, 2014

Ivan Chermayeff: Why Stamps?

With the temptation of ordering art supplies and materials from eBay, I pondered at the recycle paper trash bin at the foreign stamps with brown coarse packaging. So tempting to salvage … and here with these graphic collages by Ivan Chermayeff  I can see why I found such temptation appealing and how such things can be used to great effect! Here, envelopes are turned sideways becoming and forming new identities sometimes in bizarrely human forms. By simply utilising the humble postage stamp juxtaposed with other media, these pieces are intelligently fashioned and designed. As featured in Why Stamps? “Chermayeff calls attention to the parts with a brief essay on postage stamps and a selection of fourteen collages which use stamps and mail to the best possible effect. Also shown are two of Chermayeff’s smallest cut-paper collages: Stamps for the USPS and Royal Mail.” Above and below are some illustrated samples, I just love the visual compositions of the pieces and the way that they are delightfully interjected with humour.
Ivan Chermayeff’s Stamp Collection

Friday, November 21, 2014

The sketchbooks of Shinro Ohtake

Film editing if done to perfection happens in the blink of an eye so it appears naturally seamless, hear Japanese artist Shinro Ohtake offers a similar viewing experience with his collection of handmade sketchbooks. I am so impressed with his creativity and productivity, and that he never seems to repeat himself maybe it's impossible to because of the very method of cut and paste. In the photograph of the sketchbook unopened each page is a unique, the multiple vertical colours of the paper edges pick up every colour in existences without even looking at the creative designs inside, he has produced something very beautiful indeed, perhaps impossible to paint too, as each time the sketchbook stands the pages flex and breath and I should think subtle visual changes occur with the stress of the paper and the key positioning of the pages.

Inside the sketchbooks is an array of montage images with references to both American and Japanese popular culture. He's collected stuff from endless sources such as from magazines, comic books, billboards and urban empheria, found, displayed, posted and re-assembled into multilayered pieces using a variety of creative compositions and artistic materials. The pieces naturally take on new meanings from the juxtapositioning and abstractions, where cut ups of language the Japanese pictograms are added, but undecodable to me. I feel a visceral response, a kind of visual engagement with certain pieces more than others. Sometimes the pieces are created using natural forms interwoven with other media and materials. I greatly admire his visual colour sensibility, odiously inspired from the collected materials he assembles, aimed to catch the eye and sell products or the inspirational dreams to lure us to buy, though fragmented and separated from their original contexts,  don't lack impact, the dream is just more creatively manipulated and emotive.

I am delighted that the handmade sketchbooks are the finished art, sure he's done larger scale stuff and sculptures too, whereas artists like Turner kept watercolour sketchbooks and then produced a finished piece indoors in a studio. These are an artistic journey in themselves, it's  just a pity that when they are displayed within a gallery setting they are often preciously arranged inside glass cabinets. Part of the beauty of the media is the tactile quality, you want to touch, to smell, to look closely. However, you could say the same about film, at a cinema the best seats are where your eye's level with the screen, situated dead centre, with rows of seats stand in front and behind, but when the lights go down it's only you there. In the blink of an eye these visually interactive pieces are quite mesmerising.

Shinro Ohtake discusses the influence of American and Japanese cinema throughout the course of his 
artistic practice.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Movie Theatres in South India

With a proud and overstated sense of colour, shape and decorative style  that could easily be taken from deco influences.  These Indian cinemas are distinctly modernist in style built from 1945-1980s and quite recently photographed in 2011-13 by Geramn duo Haubitz+Zoche, are set in urban landscapes. What is interesting is that they are dated, they are certainly not modern multiplexes. The photographs are set far back enough to show the area for car parking that appears quite small and oddly not a single car is parked at any of the venues. As a result the photographs of the cinemas look all the more authentic and magnificent, not as grand perhaps as our earlier deco picture houses, but they certainly stand apart.
Photos from The Guardian - In pictures
From current exhibiton at Nusser & Baumgart gallery

Sunday, November 09, 2014


A very popular concept is to visit film locations. I’m guessing primarily that a lot of research needs doing, as it would be disappointing to discover the background sets were CGI or a mock-set, filmed entirely in the studios that doesn’t exist otherwise. New York is notoriously rich in film locations from the Hollywood years to present day. With such greats as: An Affair to Remember to Breakfast at Tiffany’s and  Ghostbusters and Bridge of Spies. These concept photographs by Chirstopher Moloney were first featured in the classic Vanity Fair magazine.

He describes the original concept of FILMography as film and photography fused together. As seen from the photographs he matches movie scenes with their present day location: kind of like movie selfies if there is such terminology, it adds a certain authenticity to the endeavour that otherwise could be mistaken for being photoshopped. I like his upbeat thoughts discussing the art project, describing how he’s re-created a remarkable 250 location photographs around the city of New York, and finds it a little hard to believe that very different directorial styles and genres coexist within the city districts of the same New York. The photographs featured are credited at the bottom of the article to encourage a bit of guesswork. Here are just a few examples please do checkout FILMography. The piece below was written by Jonathan Pace, Chris Rovzar and Jeremy Megraw, and decided to include as is.

Journalist Christopher Moloney walks to work through Central Park on most days, and last Summer he made an observation. “Every day I walked past tons of locations from popular—and not-so-popular—movies,” he explains. He decided to start printing out stills from the films and comparing them to their real-life counterparts. “Since then, I’ve re-created more than 250 scenes around the city.” His work—which includes movies as varied as Midnight Run, The French Connection, and Shaft—can be found at his Web site, FILMography. “I’m actually surprised that locations used in the 1940s and 1950s haven’t changed that much,” he says. “But places used in movies last year are virtually unrecognizable.” New York also changes depending on the director, Moloney adds. “You can tell just how much filmmakers like Woody Allen and Martin Scorsese and Spike Lee love the city. It’s sometimes hard to believe that those three very different places are all the same city.”

References: Filmography: Matching Cinematic Stills with Real Life

Diane Keaton and Woody Allen, from Annie Hall, on 68th Street in Manhattan.
Audrey Hepburn and George Peppard, outside their apartment building on 71st Street, from Breakfast at Tiffany’s.
Jane Fonda in Any Wednesday.
Bruce Willis, Samuel L. Jackson, and Sleepy’s, from Die Hard with a Vengeance.
Whoopi Goldberg and Patrick Swayze walk past Lower Manhattan’s Federal Building in Ghost.
Jane Wyman and Van Johnson stroll in Central Park during Miracle in the Rain.
Cary Grant passes the entrance to the Plaza hotel in North by Northwest.
Charles Grodin and Robert De Niro walk by a largely unchanged information 6 booth in Grand Central during Midnight Run.
Midtown’s Grace Building makes a cameo in Superman.
Cary Grant at the New York Athletic Club, on Central Park South, in That Touch of Mink.
A subway tunnel at 59th Street and Fifth Avenue in The French Connection.